A business and two homes in Macclesfield and Heald Green were searched by ICO officers this morning, as part of an investigation into the illegal trade of personal data.

The raids are connected to an ongoing investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office into hundreds of thousands of cold calls made to people to encourage them to make personal injury claims in relation to road traffic accidents. 

Mike Shaw, Enforcement Group Manager at the ICO, said:

“We know lots of people get these calls suggesting they’ve had been involved in an accident, and wonder how the caller had their details.

“The answer is that lists of people who’ve been involved in car accidents can be valuable leads to claims companies. That information is difficult to come by, even for the more disreputable firms, so data on people who’ve simply had their vehicles repaired is still prized, even though many of those people won’t have been involved in any accident.

“The trade of personal details to nuisance call firms is a nationwide problem and one we’re determined to crack down on. Today’s raids are part of an ongoing ICO investigation focused on the North West. We know where some of this information is coming from, but we want to better understand how it’s being obtained and shared with lead generation businesses. I would encourage anyone with any information regarding the illegal trade in personal data to contact the ICO and share that information with us.”

The raid was prompted by various sources of intelligence gathered by the ICO, including the reporting of nuisance calls.

You can report nuisance calls, texts and emails via the ICO website.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  4. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications.
    • There are specific rules on:
      • marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
      • cookies (and similar technologies);
      • keeping communications services secure; and
      • customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.
    • We aim to help organisations comply with PECR and promote good practice by offering advice and guidance. We will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.
  5. Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
  6. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  7. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.